Daenerys On ‘Game Of Thrones’ Will Be Like Her Father, And Westeros Is In Trouble
Daenerys’ speech on last night’s Game of Thrones was one hell of a spectacle — but not in a good way. According to critics, her speech is the latest bit of proof that Daenerys is the real villain of the show, and I’m inclined to agree.
Let’s look at the evidence. In the speech from last night’s episode, Dany promises that the Dothraki will be “killing men in iron suits” and “tearing down stone houses.” These most obviously refer to the soldiers and fortresses/castles/big fancy buildings of Westeros. However, many of the people in Westerosi stone houses are commoners who have nothing to do with Dany’s crusade against the monarchy.
We also know from earlier seasons that like most armies in the world of Game of Thrones, the Dothraki will destroy the shit out of everything and everyone during wartime. That’s why Dany had to tell them not to violate women or harm civilians: a footnote conspicuously absent from her latest speech. I guess the innocent people of Westeros are shafted once again… if the Dothraki successfully make it across the sea, that is. They’re not a seafaring culture, so once they get to Westeros, Dany’s soldiers could be in pretty bad shape, and a lot of them could die as a result.
As her speech makes clear, though, she doesn’t care. This isn’t about saving the poor backwards brown people from themselves anymore — this is about what they can give her. So, if a bunch of Dothraki die in the process, that’s too bad.
The altruistic white savior at work
Here’s the kicker: those seemingly noble causes were leading up to this speech the whole time.
She didn’t free the Unsullied, liberate the slaves of Yunkai and Meereen, and execute the Meereenese aristocracy just to be nice to brown folks (especially since she destabilized Meereen’s socioeconomic system overnight with no restructuring plan). She did it to get as many people as she could to help her take the Iron Throne.
There’s a life lesson in this for my fellow people of color: whenever a privileged white person tries to save you from your culture, they’re doing it because they want something from you in return.
This is commonly known as the white savior complex, a term for white Westerners who “save” people of color by imposing themselves upon their culture, often without any real understanding of that culture. It operates on the basis that white Western culture and values are superior to those of non-Westerners and people of color.
Many Game of Thrones viewers believe that Dany falls into the white savior category, since her character arc relies on “saving the coloreds” from their own barbaric societies, because of course brown people are barbaric inferiors while white people are liberating superiors. Her speech makes it pretty clear that this is how she sees her relationship to her supporters.
Fans and critics alike have also noted this episode’s flashback to Dany’s father, the Mad King Aerys Targaryen, which might imply that she’s becoming more like him.
With all those generations of Targaryen inbreeding, whatever was wrong with Aerys may well have been passed down to Dany. Remember back in Season Two when she punished Doreah and Xaro Xoan Daxos for betraying her by locking them alive in Xaro’s vault? Sure, it’s a case of the penalty fitting the crime, but it also shows that she wanted them to suffer. In Season 5, she burned a Meereenese nobleman alive, ostensibly as revenge for Ser Barristan’s death, but she acknowledged that the victim could have been innocent. She reused the death-by-fire technique just a couple of weeks ago, suggesting that she’s moving towards her father’s method of problem solving.
Watch for Dany smiling at the end of this scene. She’s enjoying it.
If this is where the Mother of Dragons’ character arc is headed, I’m on board. Partially because I like when rubbish good guys or ladies turn evil (e.g. Bill in True Blood), but mostly because the revelation that her motives are rooted in power-hungry madness would be such a satisfying conclusion for a white savior complex. Whoever wins, I hope white savior-hood loses.